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Green up your holiday with eco-friendly wrapping ideas

Posted by Elizabeth Bacher, Communications

Our maned wolves can't resist a sustainably-wrapped gift! Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Did you know there’s more waste generated during the holiday season than at almost any other time of year? Tens of thousands of pounds of boxes, wrappings, cards, ribbons and bows all end up in the landfill … but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Tis the season for sustainable wrapping! Photo Silvia Sava/flickr

Here are some tips for a greener holiday season!

A lot of wrapping paper can’t be recycled. Look for recycling and sourcing information on labels and steer clear of wrapping papers (and cards) that are metallic, have layers of cellophane, glitter or velvety flocking. None of those is recyclable. FSC labels (certification from the Forest Stewardship Council) are the best indicators that the paper came from a forest that is managed and harvested in an environmentally-friendly, socially-responsible, and economically viable manner.

A colorful gift box may not need any wrapping at all! Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

Don’t forget good ol’ newspaper. In this fast-paced cyber world, a sheet from your daily paper can look downright vintage cool—and sometimes a colorful gift box doesn't need any wrapping at all!

Think of a theme! Try wrapping an item for the hosts of your next holiday party in a festive kitchen linen or tea towel. Or arrange supplies in a glass jar or mixing bowl for that friend who loves cooking.

Get creative, consider wrapping large gifts with a holiday blanket, table cloth or other festive item you already have on hand. Or hide the gift and offer a scavenger hunt as part of the gifting experience!


Natural fibers like raffia, jute and twine are greener ribbon choices. Photo: Josh/premierpackaging 

Bag It! Gift bags are one of the most reusable kinds of wrapping—and there are so many options to choose from including reusable, sustainable paper and fabric.


One of our Visayan warty pigs appreciates the ease and sustainability of a gift bag. Photo/John Loughlin/Woodland Park Zoo 

Tie It Up! Most curly ribbons or stick-on bows are not recyclable. Try using twine, jute, raffia or another natural fiber to put the finishing-touch on your gift.

Reuse, reuse, reuse. When you receive gifts that have bows, ribbons or wrapping that has plenty of life left, save it. Keep a box handy to store and pull out whenever it’s time for your next wrapping session.

Everyone, including a grizzly bear, loves opening a thoughtfully wrapped gift! Photo: Woodland Park Zoo

Ready to look beyond the wrappings? Here are a couple ideas to green-up your gift-giving.

Experience is everything. Instead of an object, look for opportunities to gift fun or meaningful experiences.

A zoo membership offers unlimited admission experiences for the whole family! Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Membership: Give the gift that keeps giving with unlimited admission and fantastic benefits! Build a membership for any family and save $15 today with promo code GIFT19.

A ZooParent animal adoption makes a great gift and it supports animal care here at the zoo! Photo: Woodland Park Zoo

ZooParent: This holiday season, give a symbolic adoption to the animal lover in your life. Adoptions make a wonderful gift and help fund the daily care of our amazing animals. And consider our $69 Humboldt penguin special (plush included). Adopt today!

Got a friend with a green thumb? Woodland Park Zoo’s very own compost blend has hit the shelves just in time for the holidays! This limited edition Holidoo consists of compost featuring generous contributions from rhinos Taj and Glenn, hippos, giraffes, tapirs, mountain goats and more! And the container it comes in is recyclable or you can return it to us for a deposit!

ZooDoo makes a great, and eco-friendly, holiday gift! Photo: Woodland Park Zoo

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